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Current Projects

The following list provides information on research projects currently underway at Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. To help you navigate, projects are classified by focus area and include the project name, funder, a brief description, and a link if you would like to request additional information.

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Population Health

  • New Jersey’s Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Rapid-Cycle Feedback and Early Lessons

    Horizon Foundation for New Jersey

    Senate Bill 3, a new state initiative addressing the opioid epidemic, aims to substantially increase the number of New Jersey residents receiving substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and decrease the incidence of opioid use disorder (OUD) over the next several years. Monitoring the early experiences across the state is critical to understanding the impact of the law. As a result, Rutgers Center for State Health Policy is documenting early lessons learned and providing rapid-cycle feedback from the implementation of New Jersey’s path-breaking policy initiative through the following evaluation components: 1) monitoring SUD treatment facilities in each county to assess patient access to outpatient and inpatient treatment for OUD; 2) monitoring changes in Medicaid prescriptions for opioids in New Jersey; and 3) key Informant interviews of opioid prescribers in New Jersey.

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  • Examining Obesity Declines among School Children: The Role of Changes in the Food and Physical Activity Environments

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)

    This project is designed to identify alterable factors in the food and physical activity (PA) environment that contribute to declines in obesity rates among school children. While overall obesity rates remain high in the U.S., there have been promising reports of declines among specific subgroups across the country. Yet, little is known about the causes of such declines. This project aims to identify changes in the food and PA environments in schools and the surrounding communities that predict sustained obesity declines over time among a panel of K-12 schools, and explore whether these predictors differ by race/ethnicity, age, and gender of students. The project will also identify those community- and school-level changes that are most common among schools with sustained obesity declines and examine whether the distinguishing changes differ by race/ethnicity, age, and gender. The project focuses on all public schools in four NJ cities: Newark, Trenton, Camden, and New Brunswick. The research will prospectively follow 120 schools (30,000 students/year) over the eight-year study period. Nurse-measured heights, weights, and demographic data on students will be collected at four time points. At parallel times, school nurses will be surveyed to identify changes in food and PA environments in the schools (e.g., salad bars, drinking water in cafeterias, recess) and changes in the food and PA environment surrounding schools will be documented (e.g., new/renovated parks and trails and upgraded corner stores). Changes will be geocoded to establish proximity to schools. The impact of our proposed research derives from our having identified schools for study that have experienced declines and increases in obesity rates and our ability to identify alterable factors in the environment that can be linked to obesity trends among varied age, gender, and race/ethnicity groups. The findings will provide critical evidence for developing tailored community and school interventions for reducing the burden of childhood obesity.

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  • Support for Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey Communities

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    This project has three components: 1) develop and pilot measures of diffusion of a culture of health (CoH) and assess their usefulness to New Jersey Health Initiative (NJHI)-supported communities and to the field; 2) serve as a resource to the 20 community coalitions in their efforts to document their progress and refine their strategies; and 3) provide feedback to the communities on the functioning of their coalitions.

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  • Evaluation of OMMH Initiatives to Improve Minority Health

    New Jersey Department of Health, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health

    The purpose of this project is to: 1) review, organize, and analyze the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP), and Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More (FFESMM) annual program evaluation data; and 2) design program pre and post-test for the Diabetes Self-Management Program.

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  • The Impact of Environmental Changes on Children’s BMI and Behaviors: A Panel Study

    National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    This six-year project is conducting a controlled evaluation of the impact of changes in the food and physical activity (PA) environments on childhood obesity and related behaviors in five New Jersey cities. These cities have been targeted for interventions by major initiatives, affording the opportunity to conduct a natural experiment. The study aims are to advance our understanding of the relationship between elements of the environment and childhood obesity and related behaviors, assess the impact of specific environmental interventions, and demonstrate an innovative methodology for controlled evaluation of community interventions. The research design relies upon a prospective, longitudinal study of a randomly selected panel of 1,200 children in these cities. The research team collected comprehensive baseline data on obesity-related behaviors and body mass index in 2009-2010 in a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The data also include documentation of the food and physical activity environments to which these children were exposed (geo-coded for analysis). Comprehensive data collection on children will be repeated in four years and relevant changes in the environment will be monitored over the same period. Changes may include presence of new opportunities for healthy eating or physical activity (e.g., new supermarkets, playgrounds); significant enhancement of existing ones (e.g., addition of healthy foods to convenience stores, expanded physical education in schools), as well as non-intervention related change (e.g., retail outlets that close). Individual-level exposure will be measured by proximity of the environmental change to each child’s residence (using geo-spatial methods). The analysis will evaluate the impact of exposure to these changes on a comprehensive set of outcomes including behaviors relevant to food consumption and PA as well as weight status. The research design facilitates an exceptional degree of control in isolating the effects of particular intervention strategies and promises to make a significant contribution to enhancing prevention efforts.

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  • New Jersey Family Health Survey (NJFHS)

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    A 2009 survey of a representative sample of 2,500 New Jersey families gathered data on:

    • Health insurance coverage
    • Health care access, utilization, and satisfaction with special emphasis on emergency department use, health literacy, and the doctor-patient relationship
    • Health-related behaviors and perceptions including physical activity and nutrition
    • Health status and attitudes about health care
    • Demographic, socioeconomic, and employment characteristics
    The 2009 NJFHS interviews were conducted by landline and wireless telephones. The sample was designed to enable in-depth analysis of two groups of special policy interest: young adults and low-income families. Sampling weights assure that the NJFHS is demographically representative of all New Jersey household residents. The 2009 NJFHS provides an update of the 2001 New Jersey Family Health Survey on key measures of the health and health care of New Jersey residents.

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There are no current projects for this focus area at this time.